Family Advent – Day 22

[Symbol] The Star of Bethlehem

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[A Poem relating to the Symbol]

Bethelehem’s Star by Bevan Olsen

I’m a Star, that’s right, I’m one that you won’t ever see.

But chances are that you’ve looked for and heard about me!

I’ve become quite a symbol for a season of love,

Because I did my job well as I shone from above.

So I’ll tell you a story of how I was born.

I don’t know how long I shined but I’ll tell you what for.

When all things were created they were set in their place.

All the planets and stars God hung out in space.

He created this universe and countless more.

A Few of us helped Him; it was quite a chore.

He didn’t give me a spot, but He said not to worry,

My time was far off, but it would come in a hurry.

He told me , my light would be remembered forever,

Because He had a plan of salvation that He thought was quite clever.

So I sat and I waited for thousands of nights.

I didn’t shine once – I was saving my light.

Every new day that came I hoped God would come by,

To tell me He’d found me a place in the sky.

In fact, I had waited so long I thought He forgot

That He promised I could shine in my own special spot.

But He didn’t forget; one day He brought me great news,

That I would shine in the sky for the King of the Jews!

I was happy that God kept His promise and hadn’t forgotten,

So I promised to shine my brightest for His only Begotten.

He gave me a place not too high, not too low.

Then He told me to shine for all the people below.

I gave it my all, I shone with all of my might.

My Light was incredible! I lit up the whole night!

Just as soon as I shone I heard a baby’s sweet cry,

While a beam of my light fell on a manger nearby.

When I looked closer I saw a stable full of new life,

As Joseph handed the babe to his precious young wife.

Then a little way off on a hill not too steep,

A Few shepherds played tunes to their great herd of sheep.

When suddenly into the air an angel appeared.

It shocked those poor shepherds and filled them with fear.

He told them, “Fear not, I bring you glad tidings of great Joy.”

He said that my light would lead them to this new baby boy.

As my light swept through the night and began to cover the earth,

Prophecy was fulfilled that this was Jesus’ birth.

I watched Magi travel from faraway lands.

They came from mountains, the valleys, and across the great sands.

These Kings brought Him three gifts that were thoughtful and pure.

They brought Gold, Frankincense and even some Myrrh.

The baby grew into a toddler, then into a boy.

He learned the ways of His father and brought His parents great Joy.

He was a carpenter’s son, the heir of kingdoms unseen,

To be a leader of men and the world’s purest king.

As Jesus grew older my light started to fade,

And my brightness grew dimmer with each passing day.

Until my light completely ran out – I disappeared into the night.

My Purpose was fulfilled: I had shone with all my might.

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[Song] Star Carol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1NDk4XGoJ0

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[Scripture] Matthew 2: 9

And lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, til it came and stood over where the young child was.

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[Challenge – Be a Guide] – When Jesus was born, shepherds and wise men followed a new star to Bethlehem, where he lay in a manger. Stars like this one are symbols of wisdom or guides. The Shepherds and the Wise Men used the star as a guide to find baby Jesus. Find one way today to be an example of Jesus that will show others the way to be like Him.

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 [Article/Story relating to the challenge]

Out of Darkness

[from 21 days closer to Christ by Emily Freeman]

Let us walk in the light of the Lord. —Isaiah 2:5

“A youngster walking through a dense London fog was carrying a lighted lantern.

“‘Guide me back to my hotel,’ said a voice from out of the fog, ‘and I’ll give you a shilling.’

“‘Yes, sir.’

“And so the boy, holding his lantern high, started walking in the fog and soon reached the hotel. As he paused, not one man but four stepped forward with a shilling. The other three had seen the light and followed without question. It is so with any who lead the way to truth and light” (See N. Eldon Tanner, “The Power of Example,” Ensign, Dec. 1981, 4).

It is amazing what darkness can do. It has an unsettling effect, altering our perception and creating a sense of unease. In a recent general conference, I noticed how many apostles alluded to the fact that we live in perilous times. Uncertainty surrounds us and often the dangers that are lurking around us are hidden from our view. The best way to move forward through these perilous times is to focus on the teachings of Christ. Through the scriptures and the living prophet we will be guided in the direction of safety. But is this all it will take for His light to shine through the darkest hours and inspire us to make good decisions?

Isaiah asks, “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow” (Isa. 50:10–11).

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.” —Isaiah 9:2

This scripture teaches a very important lesson, but it has to be learned line upon line. None of us wants to lie down in sorrow. To avoid that we have to understand what this scripture tells us to do. The first line describes a person who has learned about Christ and follows the commandments from the prophet, but who walks in darkness because he has no light. It seems that Isaiah gave us a contradiction. How could this happen? If we skip down a line, Isaiah makes it clear by painting a very interesting description. He describes a light that is manmade with sparks that the individual has kindled. This is a person who has obtained knowledge, but instead of relying on the light of Christ, has chosen to rely on his own light and strength.

One of the greatest struggles Christians through all time have faced is apathy. Going through the motions won’t prevent us from distancing ourselves from the Lord. It is important that we remain focused as to where our commitment and devotion lie. Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “As I read and ponder the scriptures and carefully consider the Lord’s counsel to His followers in every dispensation of time, it appears to me that the most important thing every one of us can do is examine our own commitment and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. We must carefully guard against spiritual apathy and work to maintain the full measure of our loving loyalty to the Lord” (“How Is It with Us?” Ensign, May 2000, 31; emphasis in original).

To avoid walking in darkness, Isaiah encourages us to trust in the name of the Lord and stay upon our God. It takes a lot of faith to realize that we can’t do everything on our own and then to learn to trust in and be supported by the Lord. It is by doing this that we come to know His will for us. That knowledge will define our actions. When we trust Him enough to accept His will and learn to lean on Him for our support, then we will be filled with His light.

As we walk through one of the darkest times in history we would be wise to look to the Light. Then it will be said of us as it was of the people in Isaiah 9:2, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.” That “great light” is Christ. He is the sure and steady beam that will lead us safely home.

Media link: [Look to the Light ]

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-12-22-look-to-the-light?lang=eng

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10th Anniversary Advent Throw-Back :

[A Favourite from Previous Advents]

Quote: [Neal A. Maxwell]

“Yes, the larger Christmas story is clearly not over. It is not solely
about some other time, some other place, and some other people. It is
still unfolding, and we are in it!

Follow Your Star [by Lynn C. Jaynes]

“You bought what?”

“I know it sounds silly, but it’ll be a good thing. You wait and see.” It was dark when we loaded the five-foot Barbie dollhouse into my husband’s pickup. Was he was rolling his eyes? I was sure he was rolling his eyes. Not that I blamed him. It even sounded silly to me. What was a fifty-year-old woman doing buying a dollhouse? But it was all part of “following my Christmas star,” I just knew it. Sort of. Maybe. But it’s awkward explaining the intricacies of following a Christmas star to someone without sounding just a tad crazy. Let’s back up a bit, though. We read this about the original star-followers:

 

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:1–2)

 

It seems a little odd to me that only the Wise Men saw the star. Or perhaps only the Wise Men followed the star. Then again, maybe only the Wise Men knew what the star signified.

 

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:3)

 

Ah-ha! So they did know what the star signified.

 

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. (Matthew 2:4–6)

 

At this point it would seem the Wise Men told Herod of the star and brought others into the loop as well. But, as far as we know, the Wise Men were the only ones who went looking for the Christ child. Odd.

 

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (Matthew 2:7–12)

 

I don’t know why others didn’t follow the star. I don’t know what they saw or didn’t see, what they knew or didn’t know. All I know is that the Wise Men followed the star and that it ultimately brought them to Christ. One thing this story teaches is that the purest way to worship Christ is to identify and follow His star, which will lead us to Him. I’ve seen wise men and women on earth who have followed stars, but they didn’t ride camels and didn’t bear gifts of myrrh and probably couldn’t even spell frankincense—certainly couldn’t afford gold. Their names and gifts were not exotic but rather ordinary. I’ve learned a great deal from modern-day “wise men” who drew closer to Christ by finding and following their own Christmas stars.

I’ll tell you about one of these wise men. One year at the beginning of the Christmas season, my friend Tracey told me about an e-mail that had circulated at her work, asking for volunteers to ring the bell for Salvation Army donations. She was surprised by the request, assuming that bell ringers were usually people somehow connected with the organization. She considered the request, but because she wasn’t connected in any official way to the Salvation Army, she didn’t respond to the e-mail. After all, her daughter had a birthday party on the same day. How could she do both? She didn’t give it another thought.

As the appointed bell-ringing day drew closer, another e-mail was sent asking for a volunteer. Tracey mulled it over but, well, surely someone else would volunteer. Yet the thought nagged her until finally Tracey “saw the star” and recognized what it signified. The next morning she called the person who had sent the e-mail. Was he still looking for someone to help? He was. Tracey called her husband and gave him a choice—either ring the bell or supervise the birthday party. He chose the birthday party. At that point Tracey “followed her star” and rang the bell.

Tracey told me about her experience ringing the bell in the cold. She told of the things she learned and observed, of the people who greeted her, and of those who refused to make eye contact. With gracious tears she described the demeanor of those she had met and her own humbled attitudes and perceptions. In short, her star had brought her to Christlike service and to greater love and appreciation for her fellow man. Her star had brought her closer to Christ.

I want to be a wise woman, and I’m working on it. I looked in some of the usual places—picking up the shopping-list ornaments from trees in department stores, donating toys to charity bins, dropping a few coins into collection boxes, and joining organizations in providing canned goods to families in need. While all of these activities were good and brought a measure of satisfaction, it wasn’t until I really looked in some not-so-obvious places that I found my star—a role that perhaps I alone could fill, that would bring me closer to Christ. Hence, I was now the owner of a five-foot-tall Barbie dollhouse.

The star appeared so early in the season that I almost didn’t recognize it. It came in November. A co-worker told me she had a dollhouse she wanted to sell. It was five feet tall, in great shape, and had all kinds of accessories—tables and chairs, a refrigerator that opened with food on the shelves, a baby’s layette, pictures to hang on the walls, couches, beds, and all sorts of knickknacks. It was a very expensive set, and she was willing to let it go for a fraction of its original cost. As she described the dollhouse to me, I felt something. And I saw something—the star. So I told her I’d buy it.

On the drive home that night, I questioned my star sighting. I wondered if this was actually the star or not. Maybe I had misread the signs. What was I thinking? I had no idea what to do with this dollhouse. I knew no one who could use it. I tried to justify the purchase by convincing myself that simply buying it was enough—maybe the coworker just needed a little cash boost and this was the way to do it. But that didn’t feel quite right.

The dollhouse was an even bigger dilemma to explain to my husband. After all, where would we put a five-foot dollhouse? Our only granddaughter was still in diapers two thousand miles away and was more interested in dogs, horses, and her bottle than dolls. We had three grandsons and were expecting a fourth in February, but grandsons do not play with Barbie dolls. I thought about repainting the house with green and brown camouflage colors and stocking it with a few G.I. Joe action figures. My backup plan was to haul the dollhouse to Deseret Industries before the bishops and Relief Society presidents went there to shop for Christmas gifts to give to families in need. But I hated to do that. It felt like a cop-out. It seemed like a Wise Man making his way to Jerusalem and then sending an emissary to bear his gift to Bethlehem. That wouldn’t do. I wanted to come closer to Christ, not send someone else to do it for me. The more I thought about it, the more I knew that I had seen the star and that there must be some purpose for it, even if clouds were momentarily blocking its light. I wondered if this confusion was what the Wise Men might have felt when they showed up in Jerusalem and had to ask for directions. I needed directions.

I decided to call the Relief Society president in our ward and ask if she could help me out. When she told me she didn’t know of anyone who needed a dollhouse in our ward, I almost gave up. Following this star was not easy. I began to feel a little silly; I had bought a ridiculously large dollhouse and hadn’t the faintest clue what to do with it. I would just have to wait until the star shone a bit brighter.

I was still trying to figure things out a few days later when a woman who knew of my dilemma tapped me on the shoulder. Did I still have the dollhouse? Why, indeed I did. She knew of a family who could use it, and she arranged for the family to pick it up at my house. It was a family I hadn’t seen in years, and I had lost track of the children and their genders and ages. We arranged a time for the parents to pick up the dollhouse. At the appointed time, the parents came and were very gracious and grateful. There, I told myself. The deed was done. I supposed I should have felt overjoyed that the dollhouse had found a home. I should have had warm fuzzy feelings. But I was mostly just happy that the burden had been lifted and that my conscience was lighter.

The next morning, my husband and I were out and about and happened to catch sight of the same family who picked up the dollhouse. The whole family. There was the mom, the dad, two boys, and—most remarkably—four little girls. All under the age of ten.

 

And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. (Matthew 2:9)

 

Four little girls. I had no doubt the star had pointed the way to this sweet family that needed a five-foot-tall dollhouse. My gift had found its home. I sat in awe and wonderment, feeling a small portion of the warmth the Wise Men must have felt. I too had come closer to Christ by following the light of a star.

Every Christmas now, I look for the star. I’m anxious to see what adventure it will bring me this year.

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